Published on January 5th, 2018 | by Warren Hines1
A Letter to TSA from a Man with a Broken Leg
In this age of sweeping executive power in our federal government, it’s easy to feel as though your voice doesn’t matter. While I have long been frustrated with the Transportation Security Administration for various reasons, I recently had an experience in which I felt there was truly a place for a formal complaint. While the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights & Liberties division has now assured me that there will be an internal investigation regarding my treatment, I took it upon myself to personally call the following members of congress: Congressman Bennie Thompson, Senators Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker, Jeff Flake, and John McCain.
Most people who know me know that I am not above writing a letter to anybody about anything at any time. So, dear reader, without further adieu, I will share with you my letter in hopes that it will inspire you to stand up against the government for rights of the disabled and absolutely anything else you see wrong with this “Where’s Waldo” grade cluster-f*ck of modern-day America.
To Whom It May Concern,
I have recently had the humbling experience of sustaining a complete fracture of my right tibia and fibula. It is not until you become temporarily disabled that you realize the limitations that thousands of disabled Americans struggle with every day. I am writing about a severe policy deficiency within our federal government that singles out and humiliates these Americans.
I was flying from Seattle to Tucson on Christmas Eve when I was for the first time I can recall in my life, singled out for a “pat down” in which I was effectively sexually assaulted by a TSA agent who was simply following the policy procedure called out in his job description. The man felt my butt and my groin with his hands, and although he offered me “privacy,” I declined, because I felt that the tax-payers in the airport should bear witness to the sort of treatment disabled Americans get from the Department of Homeland Security.
When I entered security in Tucson for my return flight, I explained that I was not comfortable with their manner of screening, and I offered that I would go through the full body scanner, to avoid any unnecessary groping. The security team agreed to my proposal, and I proceeded to hop on one foot into the scanner. When they had completed the scan, I hopped through to the other side where a TSA agent said, “We’re going to feel you’re buttocks anyway.”
Not only was his comment unprofessional, but I was seated by a separate agent who, in addition to groping my butt and groin, attempted to remove my boot. Dr. Patrick Vaughan of Gig Harbor, who was the surgeon who operated on my leg, had recommended the boot rather than a hard cast specifically because of the anticipated swelling of my injured right leg during air travel. The boot was effectively acting as a cast rather than a walking boot.
I attempted to explain this to the agent, and he proceeded to argue with me stating that he “had a hard time believing that you didn’t just put the boot on this morning before you came to the airport.” I had worn the boot for about three weeks at that time—just as if it had been a cast, according to the doctor’s orders.
He was not a medical professional, yet he wanted to remove my boot, which had already been x-rayed at the full body scanner, which likely would have caused my pain to spike, and could have possibly resulted in dislocating my splintered fibula which was still healing.
Is there any empirical evidence that our federal government sexually assaulting Americans with disabilities in our nation’s airports has made a single person in this country any safer? I spoke at length with a customer service representative for the TSA who explained to me that it currently is their policy to single out individuals with a boot or a cast of any kind for a “pat down” which amounts to a federal employee touching the buttocks and groin of disabled Americans. In my opinion, this violates the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am not writing this for selfish reasons, as I do not plan to visit any airports for the duration of my recovery. I am writing this on behalf of the thousands of disabled Americans who are being sexually assaulted on a daily basis by an ineffective and inefficient federal bureaucracy.
Furthermore, it has long been my opinion that the Transportation Security Administration places an excessive burden on the American taxpayers. Dick Cheney engineered the 9/11 attacks in order to sell surveillance equipment he already had waiting in the wings in order to steal federal dollars from hardworking Americans for the benefit of his corporate manufacturing buddies and personal wealth.
There is no way that opening this sector up to private competition would be as costly and ineffective as the system our federal government has fabricated. Successful surveillance companies would have to offer competitive bidding, follow government protocols, and would be canned if their work led to the same burdens the current TSA places on American travelers and airlines, both in cost and inconvenience.
In the words of Judge “Soggy” Sweat: “This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”